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COLLECTION Identifier: HUGFP 14 and HUGFP 74

Papers of Ernst Mayr


Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) was a German-born American zoologist. He was the Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University from 1953-1975 and Director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology from 1961-1970. These papers originate from his public and professional activities.


  • 1931-1993


Language of Materials


Conditions on Use and Access

Permission is required for access to the Papers of Ernst Mayr. Contact the Reference staff in the Harvard University Archives for details.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission is required for photoduplication or publication the Papers of Ernst Mayr. Contact the Reference staff in the Harvard University Archives for details.


45 cubic feet (51 boxes and 3 folders)

The Papers of Ernst Mayr originate from his public and professional activities. Topics include research into ornithology, taxonomy, and biological evolution and systematics, evolution topics such as speciation, genetics, geographical isolation and environmentalism, phenotypes and genotypes, natural selection, and morphology. Correspondence is with many individuals and also with professional organizations such as American Ornithologists' Union and American Museum of Natural History. The papers also include writings and correspondence related to the publication of scientific books, papers, and periodicals. Principal correspondents include Margaret Nice, Konrad Lorenz, N. Tinbergen, David Lack, D.L. Serventy, Josselyn Van Tyne, and Julian Huxley.

Biography of Ernst Mayr

Ernst Mayr (1904-2005) was a German-born American zoologist. He is credited with modernizing the theory of evolution, a development sometimes called "the modern synthesis." This is a synthesis of genetic, systematic, paleontological, and ecological research to form a coherent theory of evolution.

Born in Kempten, Germany in 1904, Mayr studied at Berlin. He was Alexander Agassiz Professor of Zoology at Harvard University from 1953-1975. His early work was on the ornithology of the Pacific, leading three scientific expeditions to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands from 1928 to 1930. In his later career he was best known for his neo-Darwinian views on evolution, published in his books Animal Species and Evolution in 1963, and Evolution and the Diversity of Life in 1976.


  1. General Correspondence, earlier, 1931-1952 (HUGFP 14.7)
  2. General Correspondence, later, circa 1952-1987 (HUGFP 74.7)
  3. Julian Huxley Correspondence, 1937-1974 (HUGFP 14.15)
  4. Konrad Lorenz and Nicolas [Nikolaas] Tinbergen Correspondence, 1953-1982 (HUGFP 14.17)
  5. Miscellaneous and Anonymous Correspondence, circa 1920-1993 (HUGFP 74.10)
  6. Association Internationale de Systématique Théorique, circa 1961-1962
  7. International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, circa 1953-1976
  8. Lectures and Speeches, circa 1952-1987 (HUGFP 74.50)

Acquisition Information

  1. Accession number: 8232 ; received September 27, 1977 from Prof. Mayr
  2. Accession number: 8349 ; received April 28, 1978 from Prof. Mayr
  3. Accession number: 8523 ; received November 21, 1978 from Prof. Mayr
  4. Accession number: 10279 ; received October 30, 1984 from Prof. Mayr
  5. Accession number: 11200 ; received August 26, 1987 from Prof. Mayr
  6. Accession number: 11338 ; received Febrary 19, 1988 from Prof. Mayr
  7. Accession number: 11703 ; received May 31, 1989 from Prof. Mayr
  8. Accession number: 11776 ; received August 2, 1989 from Prof. Mayr
  9. Accession number: 12133 ; received February 13, 1991 from The Museum of Comparative Zoology

Portion digitized

A small portion of these papers, the Konrad Lorenz and Nicolas [Nikolaas] Tinbergen Correspondence, 1953-1982, has been digitized, but access is restricted. Contact the Harvard University Archives to inquire about access. DRS Object identifier: URN-3:HUL.DRS.OBJECT:100241505

Inventory update

This document last updated 2022 April 20.

Inventory re-design 2021

In 2021, the online content management system that manages and displays Harvard's archival inventories became unable display the version of the inventory to the Papers of Ernst Mayr that was first published online in the 1990s. This version included an index of people and organizations for the following groups of correspondence: General Correspondence, 1931-1952 (HUGFP 14.7), General Correspondence, 1952-1987 (HUGFP 74.7), and Miscellaneous or Anonymous Correspondence, ca. 1920-1993 (HUGFP 74.10) When system experts were unable to address the issue, archivist Kate Bowers re-designed the inventory and transformed the index data into descriptions of the folders of correspondence.

The same data is in the new version of the finding aid, but its placement has changed. Instead of being in one long alphabetical listing by correspondent, this version of the inventory lists the folders and shows the index entries under each folder.

Other changes include a flattening of the hierarchy, modifying the series titles, adding sequences and folders to the hierarchy to model the groupings of the folders, and updating of much of the prose.

The old index is available as a PDF. Contact the Harvard University Archives for a copy.

Mayr, Ernst, 1904-2005. Papers of Ernst Mayr : an inventory
Harvard University Archives
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Repository Details

Part of the Harvard University Archives Repository

Holding nearly four centuries of materials, the Harvard University Archives is the principal repository for the institutional records of Harvard University and the personal archives of Harvard faculty, as well as collections related to students, alumni, Harvard-affiliates and other associated topics. The collections document the intellectual, cultural, administrative and social life of Harvard and the influence of the University as it emerged across the globe.

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